top of page

Recognizing Signs of Instability in a Co-Parent

Co-parenting can be a struggle when one parent is unable to provide stability, security and love following a separation or divorce. However, when one co-parent struggles with instability, it can compromise the safety and security of the children involved. Recognizing the signs of instability in a co-parent is essential for safeguarding the well-being of the children and navigating the co-parenting relationship effectively.

Signs of Instability in a Co-Parent:

  1. Erratic Behavior: One of the hallmark signs of instability in a co-parent is erratic behavior. This may manifest as sudden mood swings, unpredictable reactions to situations, or extreme fluctuations in emotions without apparent cause.

  2. Inconsistency in Parenting: Unstable co-parents may struggle to maintain consistency in their parenting approach. They may alternate between being overly permissive and excessively strict, leading to confusion and instability for the children. They may also waver on their perspectives and change last minute to suit their own personal needs or emotions, rather than the children. 

  3. Neglect of Basic Needs: An unstable co-parent may neglect to meet the basic needs of the children, such as providing adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. This neglect can have serious consequences for the children's health and well-being.

  4. Unsafe Environment: Children may be exposed to an unsafe or unstable environment when co-parenting with someone who is unstable. This could include living in an unsafe neighborhood, being exposed to substance abuse or domestic violence, or experiencing neglectful or abusive behavior.

  5. Lack of Emotional Support: Unstable co-parents may struggle to provide the emotional support and stability that children need for healthy development. They may be unable to offer reassurance, guidance, or encouragement, leaving children feeling neglected or insecure.

  6. Unpredictable Communication: Communication with an unstable co-parent may be unpredictable or unreliable. They may struggle to effectively communicate with the other co-parent or make impulsive or irrational decisions without considering the consequences.

  7. Excessive Stress and Conflict: Co-parenting with an unstable individual often leads to excessive stress and conflict. The unstable co-parent may engage in frequent arguments, manipulation, or power struggles, creating a hostile and toxic environment for the children.

  8. Risk of Harm to Children: Perhaps the most concerning sign of instability in a co-parent is the risk of harm to the children. This could be physical harm resulting from neglect or abuse, emotional harm stemming from instability or trauma, or psychological harm caused by exposure to unhealthy dynamics and conflict.


Ensuring Safety and Security for Children:

  1. Prioritize Child Safety: Above all else, prioritize the safety and security of the children involved. If you have concerns about the well-being of the children when co-parenting with someone who is unstable, take immediate steps to address the situation and ensure their safety.

  2. Seek Professional Help: If you suspect that your co-parent is unstable and unable to provide a safe and secure environment for the children, seek assistance from mental health professionals, substance abuse counselors, or legal experts who can offer guidance and support.

  3. Document Concerns: Keep detailed records of any concerning behavior or incidents involving the unstable co-parent, including dates, times, and descriptions of the events. This documentation can be invaluable if legal intervention is necessary to protect the children.

  4. Establish Boundaries: Set clear boundaries with the unstable co-parent to protect yourself and the children from harm. This may involve limiting communication, seeking legal restrictions if necessary, or establishing supervised visitation arrangements.

  5. Provide Stability and Support: Be a stable and supportive presence in the children's lives, offering love, guidance, and reassurance during times of uncertainty. Create a nurturing environment where the children feel safe and secure, free from the instability of the co-parent's behavior.


Co-parenting with someone who is unstable presents unique challenges and risks for the safety and security of the children involved. By recognizing the signs of instability in a co-parent and taking proactive steps to address concerns, you can ensure the well-being of the children and create a stable and nurturing environment for them to thrive. Remember that seeking support from professionals, setting clear boundaries, and prioritizing the safety of the children are essential steps in navigating this complex co-parenting dynamic.


Journal copy.png
bottom of page